Optik&Photonik 1/2013 29 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
Research & Technology
Like a Jigsaw PuzzleNew modeling approach transforms imaging technologies
Researchers are improving the perfor-mance of technologies ranging from medical CT scanners to digital cameras using a system of models to extract spe-cific information from huge collections of data and then reconstructing images like a jigsaw puzzle. The new approach is called model-based iterative recon-struction, or MBIR.
Its more-or-less how humans solve problems by trial and error, assessing probability and discarding extraneous information, said Charles Bouman, Purdue Universitys Michael and Kath-erine Birck Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a professor of biomedical engineering.
MBIR has been used in a new CT scanning technology that exposes pa-tients to one-fourth the radiation of conventional CT scanners. In consumer electronics, a new camera has been in-troduced that allows the user to focus the picture after it has been taken.
In medical CT scanners, the reduc-tion of radiation exposure is due to increased efficiency achieved via the models and algorithms. MBIR reduces noise in the data, providing greater clarity that allows the radiologist or ra-diological technician to scan the patient at a lower dosage, Bouman said.
Its like having night-vision goggles, he said. They enable you to see in very low light, just as MBIR allows you to take high-quality CT scans with a low-power X-ray source.
Researchers also have used the ap-proach to improve the quality of images taken with an electron microscope. New findings are detailed in a research paper being presented during the Electronic Imaging 2013 conference in San Fran-cisco this week.
Traditionally, imaging sensors and software are designed to detect and
measure a particular property. The new approach does the inverse, collecting huge quantities of data and later culling specific information from this pool of information using specialized models and algorithms.
Purdue, the University of Notre Dame and GE Healthcare used MBIR to create Veo, a new CT scanning technol-ogy that enables physicians to diagnose patients with high-clarity images at pre-viously unattainable low radiation dose levels. The technology has been shown to reduce radiation exposure by 78 per-cent.
If you can get diagnostically usable scans at such low dosages this opens up the potential to do large-scale screen-ing for things like lung cancer, Bouman said. You open up entirely new clinical applications because the dosage is so low.
A CT scanner is far better at diagnos-ing disease than planar X-rays because it provides a three-dimensional picture of the tissue. However, conventional CT scanners emit too much radiation to merit wider diagnostic use.
The research to develop Veo has been a team effort with Ken Sauer, an associ-ate professor of electrical engineering at Notre Dame, in collaboration with Jean-Baptiste Thibault, Jiang Hsieh and Zhou Yu. Thibault and Yu worked on the technology as graduate assistants under Bouman and Sauer and both currently work for GE Healthcare.
In the electron microscope research, MBIR was used to take images of tiny beads called aluminum nanoparticles.
Improved resolution could help re-searchers design the next generation of nanocomposites for applications such as fuel cells and transparent coatings.
MBIR also could bring more afford-able CT scanners for airport screening.
In conventional scanners, an X-ray source rotates at high speed around a chamber, capturing cross section im-ages of luggage placed inside the cham-ber. However, MBIR could enable the machines to be simplified by eliminat-ing the need for the rotating mechanism.
Future research includes work to use iterative reconstruction to study ma-terials. Purdue is part of a new Multi-University Research Initiative funded by the U.S. Air Force and led by De Graef. Researchers will use the method to study the structure of materials, work that could lead to development of next-generation materials.
Fig. Researchers are improving the performance of tech-nologies ranging from medical CT scanners to digital cam-eras using a system of models to extract specific information from huge collections of data and then reconstructing images like a jigsaw puzzle. Here, the method is used to create a high-resolution 3-D electron microscopy reconstruction of aluminum nanoparticles, aiding efforts to design nanocom-posites for applications ranging from fuel cells to transparent coatings. (Source: Purdue University, US Air Force Research Laboratory and Carnegie Mellon University)